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Curing a Cold: What Works and What Doesn't

Updated on November 30, 2016
Stop the spreading!
Stop the spreading!

Find out what's effective and what's not when it comes to curing the common cold.

Strictly speaking there has never been a direct cure for the common cold but there has always been remedies in relieving those miserable symptoms.

Everyone has had the common cold in their lives it has affected us all at some point - If you catch the bug you can expect to be sick for around one or two weeks, these remedies may help...

So, what works?

  • Hydration
  • Zinc
  • Saline Nasal Drops and Sprays
  • Cold and Cough Medications
  • Antihistamines
  • Humidity
  • Salt Gargle

Now let me explain how these can actually help you...

Stay Hydrated
Stay Hydrated


You can't actually flush a cold out of your system unfortunately but by having a consistent intake of fluids you can relieve congestion and avoid dehydration.

Avoid all fizzy drinks, coffees and alcohol as these can dehydrate you even more.


For decades researchers potentially believied that zinc could cure the common cold but there has finally been some light shed over this topic.

A constructive analysis report has proven Zinc really does have some potential of being beneficial, likewise, some researchers still do not support these claims. But how can we use zinc?

  • Zinc Lozenges
  • Zinc Nasal Sprays

Saline Nasal Drops and Sprays

Nasal drops and sprays are available over-the-counter; they are designed primarily to combat congestion and stuffiness. A mist of saline solution is delivered to help moisturise dry or irritated nostrils.

Additionally saline nasal drops and sprays can also relieve nasal congestion and remove airborne irritants therefore providing extra relief.

Cold and Cough Medications

Such medication can give us noticeable pain relief!
Such medication can give us noticeable pain relief!

There are many cold and cough medicatons available for purchase over-the-counter and they have proved to be beneficial in more ways than one. Through the use of non-prescription decongestants and pain relievers you will certainly have some degree of relief from your symptoms.

* Experts agree that using such over-the-counter medications on young children can cause significant harm, also, they have stressed to never take more than the reccommended dose - it can do some nasty damage so take added care.


What are antihistamines? Histamine is a protein that the immune system uses to help protect the body’s cells against infection.

Sedating antihistamines may provide minor relief of several cold symptoms including sneezing, cough and nasal congestion.


The common cold thrives in dry conditions! (This is another reason why colds are more common in the winter.)

Also, dry air can cause a stuffy nose and a scratchy throat and this happens because the air will dry your muscous membranes. A humidifier can be used to add moisture to your home which will help relieve cold symptoms - however the added moisture can attract fungi, mold and bacteria to your home so use it periodically.

Salt Gargling

A simple salt gargle can alleviate pain and reduce the swelling caused due to a sore throat. Here's a little method to follow:

  1. Heat a glass of water (8-ounzes) until the water is just lukewarm.
  2. Add a requisite amount of salt (typically half a teaspoon)
  3. Stir the water until the salt has thoroughly dissolved.
  4. Now gargle with a mouthful of this salt water then spit it out after 10 seconds. Repeat this several number of times to experience any benefits.

Chicken soup helps no more than any other soup!
Chicken soup helps no more than any other soup!

What Doesn't Work?

Unfortunately there is a never ending list of what cold remedies are ineffective - but I will focus on more on the common ones, here are some examples:

  • Chicken Soup
  • Echinacea
  • Antibiotics

Chicken Soup

Generation after generation parents have believed chicken soup will cure the common cold. Although chicken soup has never actually proved to cure the common cold it does in fact have some mild anti-inflammatory effects.


It looks good, but is it good for us?
It looks good, but is it good for us?


What is Echinacea? Echinacea is a flowering plant of the daisy family which is in an ongoing debate about whether or not it can really support our immune system in curing our colds.

In the meantime, if your immune system is healthy and you are not taking prescription medications, using echinacea supplements is unlikely to cause harm.


There has always been a mis-understanding when it comes to antibiotics - they destroy bacteria, and that's it. Unfortunately though, the common cold is a virus thus rendering antibiotics useless!

Never buy antibiotics for a common cold they just wont do anything. But what's worse is if you use antibiotics when you don't really need them because you can contribute to a build up of resistance to the stuff; which consequently makes them less effective when you may actually need them...


Stop the spreading!

Through simple hygienic procedures such as washing your hands regularly and not touching your face and mouth etc - you can prevent the spread of the common cold. Additionally, our immune systems are the frontier of protection against such illnesses - find out here how to improve it.

Boosting the immune system


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    • Sottway profile image

      Infopedia 6 years ago from Worldwide

      Hey Mljdgulley354.

      I'm glad you like the remedies!

      You're right, cures will alleviate all symptoms whereas what I've recommended are all relievers, I suppose in my opening sentence I clarified it so thanks for bringing it up :)

      And Lysine - I've never heard of the stuff, what is it?

      Thanks for the comment!

    • mljdgulley354 profile image

      mljdgulley354 6 years ago

      These are great cold remedies. There is a difference in curing and getting relief. While these remedies don't cure, they do give relief from the cold symptoms. I would add lysine to your list of cold remedies. Taking lysine at the onset of a cold gives great relief

    • Sottway profile image

      Infopedia 6 years ago from Worldwide

      Hey again Infoforum.

      How have your hubs been coming along recently? Still writing I hope :)

      I got a little confused with your comment though, do you mean you think the chicken soup debate does or does not cure a cold?

      Anyway, thanks for the comment!

    • Sottway profile image

      Infopedia 6 years ago from Worldwide

      Hey kaitlincolee.

      The warm salt gargle is a great little treat for combating the common cold! I'm glad you discovered it here.

      Thanks for commenting!

    • infoforum profile image

      infoforum 6 years ago from Universe

      In fact I don't agree with the thing that chicken soup cures cold

    • infoforum profile image

      infoforum 6 years ago from Universe

      But chicken soup should be without vinegar otherwise it will increase flue!

    • kaitlincolee profile image

      kaitlincolee 6 years ago

      The tip on salt gargling is interesting, I never knew that could help a cold. Great tips!

    • Sottway profile image

      Infopedia 6 years ago from Worldwide

      Hello Tillsontitan.

      I'm glad you you find the Hub interesting :)

      You say that Chicken Soup does really help... Can doctors even say its good even if they're not sure why?? Conflicting data is not a problem though, I appreciate the read and comment!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 6 years ago from New York

      Interesting hub with some good advice. However, doctors are saying Chicken soup does help. They really aren't even sure why but...The rest of your facts are good and good advice for approaching cold season. Voted up.

    • Chash1 profile image

      Chash1 6 years ago from Australia

      your hubs in season!! ive been ill recently and there really is no way around a cold you just have to get on with it and relieve the cold anyway you can. that's how i feel about it.. what a week......

    • Sottway profile image

      Infopedia 6 years ago from Worldwide

      Hey CupClothing

      And no I never stop writing! Not only that, I've got a lengthy project of 100 Hubs coming! All in good time though.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • CupClothing profile image

      CupClothing 6 years ago from arlington

      great tips for the oncoming winter! you don't stop writing do you sottway haha

    • Sottway profile image

      Infopedia 6 years ago from Worldwide

      Hi Alecia Murphy!

      Ah! No problem for clearing up the old chicken soup myth, I always wondered if it really helped when I was younger.

      I decided to make this Hub as a few of my family members are ill with the 'common cold' and they're always blaming the poxy weather changes, what's your weather like where you're from? It went from 12 degree's to snow here in England in 2 days, how typical!

      But yes before I get involved to much it is a pretty suitable Hub I hope all my readers stay free from illness this season!

      Thanks for the comment though much appreciated.

    • Alecia Murphy profile image

      Alecia Murphy 6 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Great hub and very relevant to the season. Where I am the weather goes back and forth, so it's best to be prepared for whatever. Thank you as well for clearing up the chicken soup myth!

    • Sottway profile image

      Infopedia 6 years ago from Worldwide

      @texasgirlfw - Hey I'm glad you liked the hub!

      I do believe there's nothing out there in our highly developed medicine world which effectively cures the common cold!

      You do have the best idea though, all we can do is just get on with it whilst finding out the relief remedies which individually work for us.

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Sottway profile image

      Infopedia 6 years ago from Worldwide

      @LULU SUE1987

      Hello LULU.

      It's great that you like my subjects, thanks for popping by for the read!

      The least invasive approach is very wise, keep making it work and stay healthy :)

      Thanks for the comment!

    • Sottway profile image

      Infopedia 6 years ago from Worldwide

      @Jfrint - hey again!

      I'm glad you liked the new hub!

      Thanks for commenting

    • LULU SUE1987 profile image

      LULU SUE1987 6 years ago

      You cover some good subjects here. I have found that a cold will ast 7 days and try to treat the discomfort with the least invasive remedies. Saline solution to clear my nose, pain meds for discomfort, lots of water.

    • texasgirlfw profile image

      texasgirlfw 6 years ago

      Very interesting. I have found that no matter what I do a cold last a week. Taking antihistimines sometimes makes it last longer because of rebound. I usually dring lots of fluids, use saline to clear my nose, take pain killers if I need them, and get through it.

    • Jfrint profile image

      Jfrint 6 years ago

      A nice looking well written hub once again Sottway!

    • Sottway profile image

      Infopedia 6 years ago from Worldwide

      Hello YogaKat!

      Do your best to stay healthy out there! :)

      I hope you enjoy my next Hub as well - Thanks for reading!

    • YogaKat profile image

      YogaKat 6 years ago from Oahu Hawaii

      A timely hub - everyone around me is coughing and sneezing ALL over the place. Guess I need to read Boosting the Immune System next :)

    • Sottway profile image

      Infopedia 6 years ago from Worldwide

      Hey infoforum!

      Thanks for such a speedy comment on my new hub :)

      It's great to see you agree with what i've written - also thanks for the great feedback!

    • infoforum profile image

      infoforum 6 years ago from Universe

      Great info! Gargling is best thing to do! Taking lots of water is also a good and experienced tip! Voted up! +useful!